The Senate today in a 55-42 procedural vote blocked consideration of a bill that would allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices.
The bill was sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) but shepherded by Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. Reid and others late Tuesday had predicted the bill would fall a few votes shy of what is needed for passage.
Even if it had passed, the Bush administration said that it strongly opposed a Senate bill that would give the federal government power to negotiate directly with drugmakers in its Medicare program. President Bush promised a presidential veto if the legislation made it to his desk.
The administration charges that the bill would impede competition and reduce convenience for beneficiaries.
Baucus had to shoulder criticism from members of his own party who claimed that the Senate bill did not go as far as a similar bill that passed the House earlier this year. The Senate bill would have effectively removed wording that prohibits HHS from negotiating drug prices, while the House bill would require such negotiations. -- by Matthew DoBias